Integrating Financial Modeling Into Banking : Learnings From Prototyping And User Testing

Context:

Designing Digital Interfaces is by far the most tech heavy class we’ve experienced in our three quarters of study. Previously, our use of design software was based on deliverables for projects that weren’t digital products. So, we taught ourselves Adobe Illustrator and Sketch at our own pace and learned to use it in our own creative processes. For Chrissy Cowdry’s course we are all learning the standardized (albeit constantly changing) methods of wireframing and prototyping, and applying them towards mobile bank app redesigns. Our research methodologies and service design aptitudes are coming into play heavily whilst re-thinking an existing app. At the same time, the skills we are learning in this course are becoming handy in all of our other courses where we are being asked to make shit, and make shit fast.

The second portion of the class is to integrate financial modeling features into our traditional banking apps. The product must include:

  1. A financial snapshot interface
  2. A way to check on anomalous transactions
  3. A “what if” scenario for spending decisions
  4. A feature to help you decide how much is safe to spend at any given time.

My Approach:

Having very limited experience with finance analytics tools was a disadvantage for me and I needed to do some secondary research to inform what I would want to see in my product.

I had signed up for an Intuit Mint account to track my budget and spendings when I became a student with meager savings 7 months ago when I started at AC4D. I spent thirty minutes setting it up, and I haven’t looked at it since—until a week ago when I investigated how things were looking. While I know I’ve done a decent job of self-restraint over the past months, my Mint account didn’t give me a clear picture of where my money is being spent. I was particularly confused by the budgeting categories and transactions that were being grouped under them. There was a haphazard doctor appointment under groceries. And my city bus tickets were going towards financial spending?

 

I decided that organizing clean and specific parameters around my budgeting categories, as well as informing the product that, for ex. my bus tickets are actually a transportation spending, would be the quickest route to finding clarity and getting the most out of the tool.

After toying around with the app I grew frustrated that there was no way for me to tell the product that not just one, but ALL of my payments to Capital Metro, are bus tickets, in the past and in the future. I decided that since this was secondary research and I wasn’t in the field to do this testing, I would bring at least one subject matter expert to help find the solution to my probably.

So I opened a customer support chat with Mint and chatted with Stephon for a few minutes. I was disappointed to hear that, indeed, I can’t make rules for payees from the mobile app. Stephon instructed me to navigate to the web app to perform this task. Screen Shot 2019-02-05 at 1.44.13 PM

Stephon sent me a list of instructions and I taught the computer how I wanted my transactions and payees to be organized.

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I didn’t find this particularly delightful or effective, so I decided that designing a more efficient rule-making feature for budgeting would be the first step to my new redesigns.

Designs and User Feedback:

I made wireframes for several scenarios and satisfied the features that the assignment required within those scenarios.

Scenario 1: The user gets an alert that they’ve gone way over on their transportation budget and they are prompted to investigate the cause and solve the problem. In this case the user sees that their Delta flight purchase needs to be better categorized and so they go through a once-and-done process so that the app will be smarter at sorting payees in the future. WellsFargo_FinancialModel_Deck (7)

Scenario 2: The user is saving up for a trip to Rome and realizes that they are behind the timeline they expected. From the financial “snapshot” landing page, the user is asked to find two ways to adjust their savings and spending guidelines to expedite their savings for Rome. In this case the user is able to manipulate the “what if” spendings feature to decide to cut down on eating out at restaurants. Additionally the user can adjust the percentage of their monthly savings they are committing to Rome by de-prioritizing the shoes and motorcycle they were also saving up for.

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In this deck I talk about the responses I got from users during testing:

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Learnings:

Wireframing for this assignment was tiresome and more ambiguous than the previous redesign of the banking app itself. It was more difficult to find a cohesive user flow and making symbols consistent throughout the wide-ranging capabilities the product was confusing.

From my users I have come away with several key insights to reflect on and use to build my next iteration.

  1. As a designer, don’t overcompensate in complexity because you started off not understanding something. Instead a designer should better use their resources and spend more time studying users. 
  2. I assumed that everyone wants full accessibility on their mobile apps, whereas my participants expressed that they wouldn’t find themselves doing these tasks  on-the-go. Banking and financing isn’t something users necessarily do on the subway or at lunch. 
  3. A tutorial for first-time-use would be of benefit. I had conversations with multiple users in which I heard that they are used to having to tinker around with apps to familiarize themselves.
  4. A good app should be simple enough to be understood by someone who is new to finance and sophisticated enough for a weathered expert. Financial wellness is a trending topic and someone who is just starting to make money should have the same access and understanding to manage their income and investments as someone who has had money and saved money for decades. 

 

Non-Traditional College Advising: As Sensemaking Becomes Action Taking

Context:

The class is already halfway through our capstone projects for the AC4D graduating class of 2019. Up until quarter three the coursework has focused on versing ourselves in the methods that make for good design research, insights and empathy-building within a problem space. Then, how do we communicate the emotional truths we believe our findings support in a way that motivates action. Sensemaking never stop during the interaction design process, nor does it stop in the life of a social enterprise.

Our coursework now adds the next layer, focusing on testing design ideas and validating whether or not our solutions are actionable, impactful—solutions that humans would actually use. Through user testing and iterative repetition we continue to reflect on our research, the sense we’ve made, and the sense we’ve just proven wrong by prototyping a product or a service that users don’t yet believe in.

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Our Problem space:

Our research team (Zev Powell, Adam Niederpruem, and Cristina Suazo) has focused on how college advisors can be more effective ambassadors for their non-traditional students throughout college persistence.

The research deviates from the rest of the student groups as our focus is advisor-centered rather than student-centered. We’ve come to see advisors as influencers that can help unpack the obstacles of student success. In various organizations their caseloads range anywhere between 50 to 200 students each. We believe that if we can build effective products in the advising space, we will touch the lives of countless students.

Design Research Takeaways:

– Advising isn’t getting to the students that need it.

– Advisors struggle to communicate to non-traditional students that all obstacles in their lives—little and big—are relevant to academic success.

– Advisors need to capture sustained awareness of student’s personal needs, including financial and mental health.

Ideation & Prototyping:

The last several weeks we’ve gone through a rigorous ideation process. Coming up with ideas is fun. Down-selecting is less fun. Our group experienced some personal conflict that ended up being one of the biggest learning experiences for us: Rapid ideation comes after months of tedious research. We were attached to the truth of our data and the insights and criteria we pulled from them. It felt weird to let loose and trust our instinct to reach meaningful design ideas by just blurting them out and scribbling them down.

How were we to check in with ourselves and make sure our ideas were defensible and really tackled the problems we saw in our research? We finished last week with five design ideas that we put into storyboard format. We had our doubts. Here are three of them:

 

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  1. Skill Stock prepares students to see their own skillsets in a new way.
  2. College Of Forking Paths is a choose-your-own-adventure exercise that helps advisors, alongside their advisees, unpack the difficult decision-making that happens during college.
  3. A mental health gauge that helps keep advisors up to date on the wellbeing of their students.

Since the end of our design research in December we had been cooped up in studio moving utterances and post-its, drawing concept maps, and getting progressively more and more worried about the direction of our project. That was until this week when we invited one of our local partners, Andrea Guengerich of Breakthrough Central Texas, for a validation test of our unique value propositions.

User Testing:

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Andrea’s response was re-energizing. She got emotional just seeing our working space and the quotes on the walls, so much so that we are arranging another time for more Breakthrough staff to go through a similar tour. She echoed what AC4D emphasizes. We do what subject matter experts don’t have time to do.

During a co-creation exercise where we had her organize some of our insights she got to telling stories about her students that she mentors. We had interviewed Andrea back in November, yet this time we were getting a whole other level of empathy. The co-creation inspired us all.

“I was on a campus visit with a student and we had to go to five different offices in one day to get him the support he needed… Afterwards we went and sat down in the cafeteria to decompress and it took a whole hour. When I asked him if he was ready to start filling out his FAFSA he said, ‘you must be crazy.'”

When presenting our product demos we strategically revealed few details so that we could get her responses to the foundational purpose of the value propositions. At a high level, were they any good? We heard an astounding yes across the board.

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Results:

To our surprise Andrea is looking to find ways to demo our products with Breakthrough throughout the duration of our AC4D course. Adam and Cristina are working on prototypes to test with advisors and students. Zev is rushing to see if he can get a good-enough choose-your-own-adventure demo for Andrea to test on her upcoming campus visits with her students in Dallas.

Looking Forward: 

While we received positive feedback from Andrea we are going to be constantly putting our prototypes in front of people with a skeptical eye so that our ideas can be challenged, so that we can fail fast, and so that the next iteration of our products will be better than the last.

Check in with us at the end of each week for updates on our many mini failures (and hopefully a few successes).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Testing UI Hypotheses in the Field: Wells Fargo Mobile App Redesign

When Chrissy first assigned us this user testing project she told us to block out hour-long chunks of time with participants to go through the scenario flows of our banking app redesigns. I have six flows and couldn’t imagine why in the world it would take a whole hour to do these simple tasks. I was VERY wrong. On average it took me 60 minutes to get through half of my workflows. It’s surprising how value can be assigned to almost anything when it is being investigated. Users seem to put a lot more thought into simple digital actions when they see how it relates to their everyday interactions with technology. And they aren’t shy to spend an hour talking about it.

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In testing my research hypotheses I came across some consistent pain points and several takeaways. I will focus on 2 in this post.

  • Language Matters.
  • Users should be able to make the decisions they want to as early as possible during a flow.

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Language should always infer the action that can be taken by performing a task. This becomes difficult when you are using a noun not a verb. Several users brought to my attention the vagueness of “Payee Contact.” As a researcher I could only ask “what do you think it means?” Without breaking character I was able to glean some missteps and misuse of words. In the above case I wanted that form to indicate that you could search your phone contacts as payees.

A user shouldn’t have to stray far from the origin of their task before they feel like they’ve made the core decisions they need to make in that task. This should inform the flow and develop a hierarchy of what order processes should be taken. If the designer fails to do this, the user can become lost and uncertain, as well as feel surprised that something important comes up so late in the process.

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On several occasions I made this mistake.

Bank app users should:

  • Be able to indicate early in a transfer flow whether the money will be transferred between their own accounts or elsewhere.
  • When paying a friend the user should be able to indicate early on if they are requesting or paying money (something I failed to do if the user is requesting money).
  • When paying a new bill the user should be able to choose early on whether it is a one-time payment or a payment they wish to schedule in the future and have a recurring system for the bill.

One of my hypotheses was that I could eliminate nesting options and drop downs by using simple and bold iconography. In particular I was inspired by the ANZ banking app’s transfer interface. However I found a lot of users confused by the visuals and I’ve gone through some iterating below and going forward I will be looking for continued feedback as I develop this feature.

Original Transfer Flow:

Transfer Revised Flow:

 

UI Wireframing: Banl App Redesign

Sometimes I hit a dead end with a design method and struggle to let myself move forward while feeling like I did a mediocre job on one step—How can you possibly develop something of quality without each step being the best it could ever be. I’m continually proven wrong about the need to perfect the understanding of a product or service using one design method, when the next step in the design process might prove to cycle me back to better understanding the previous that I struggled so much with.

Wireframing my redesigns of the Wells Fargo app did just that. I hit dead ends with the UI concept maps we developed for our last assignment. All of the information felt a little abstract and removed. However, when I was forced into wireframing I had no choice but to carefully study each and every function and why it exists in a certain way. I was immediately able to make stronger critiques of the way the current app flows. I was stuck trying to visualize this using concept maps.

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Working with wires helped me understand the logic of mobile apps and increased the chaos that unfolded with something that seems so fluid and seamless in final interaction state.

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 The first decision I made was to design the landing page to reflect the main functions a user wants the app to do. Everything else is de-emphasized. I went with a fanned out wallet visual. The tabs can be swiped up and down and clicked to engage.

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There aren’t many steps in this deposit flow—I hope this makes it intuitive and simple—but it certainly is more detailed and will allow me to go back to my concept map and inform the revisions I make as things begin to take shape. Screen Shot 2019-01-21 at 6.37.38 PM

I did user research on apps that other banks used rather than basing all of my design decisions on the things I didn’t like about the Wells Fargo app. Experiencing the flow of my Australian ANZ account brought to light a lot of particulars that would not have surfaced otherwise.

While the above flows look simple there is so much minutia and complexity around the wireframes themselves. With the wires revealed just a small taste of the big web looks something like this.

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Banking is a fascinating space to be developing mobile accessibility and the implications of redesigns carry a lot of weight. I am glad to have had this learning experience as I fully appreciate the level of insight that goes into the UI.

Mobile Banking App IA Redesign

There are so many different preferences of bank customers. Some people want to have nothing to do with the high maintenance fuss of banking and managing accounts. Others want their hands on everything. People think they know themselves and their preferences, and then they lose their wallet, and all of a sudden their needs for the app are totally different than before. What is appropriate to have on a mobile app that makes for a functionally simple yet robust app?

When I use my Wells Fargo app I often feel like there are far too many steps in between the landing page and my goal having opened the app. If you are someone habitually checking your account balance and perusing transaction histories, then Wells Fargo is great for you. But why do I have to navigate multiple menus to get to check deposits and account transfers? The Wells Fargo App tries to do a lot, and it grows more bloated with every feature that is clumsily incorporated. I’ve represented my information architecture experience with the app below:

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When considering redesigns I wanted to keep the main functional goals in mind. While there is no doubt that things are missing, I decided to iterate with a very clear and simple map so as to emphasize what the root functions are of the banking app. Things can get more busy in later iterations and prototyping when things are more clearly missing (under build rather than over build).

The true shape and content of the app should be informed by user scenarios and needs. Here are the bones.

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College Advisors: Building An Intentional Relationship

College students are legal adults. Whether they are 18 or 45, an advisor can’t phone home every time their student has an issue in their lives during their pursuit of a college degree. Imagine the difference between Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Good Will Hunting. For the student who is living away from home, trying to live an autonomous life, the support they could need from an advisor is so expansive and elusive.

While doing field research with local organizations and partners we are noticing that the more bandwidth and freedom an advisor has—to be daring and intrusive with their students—the greater the chance is that they are discovering their real latent needs. The basic systemic needs slide towards a much more robust personal need for support when a student begins to struggle, especially in the case of non-traditional students.

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It’s hard to get a student to ask for help in the first place. These are new life struggles to them and, most likely, first-generation college students don’t have anyone in their families to turn towards for support. The advisor has the opportunity to fill that void and its unique shape, size, profundity, and obscurity.

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Moving forward we are going to be focusing on how advisors can build intentional relationships with their students. How can this bond accommodate positive and productive faith and reason in persistence and college graduation?

 

 

Lateral Thinking In The Past: Final Theory Assignment Q1

Every time we delve into a new focus subject of design theory we are building a bank of literacy and thoughts for ourselves. We move forward with a longterm memory of the concepts and ideas that the authors present, and we can cognitively input the knowledge into the work we do now and in the future.

However, some of these more complex ideas are quite hard to grasp and I’ve found that it is harder to fit the confusing ideas into a mental toolbox to access later. In response I have found it to be a good challenge to dig into my personal memories and identify wicked problems that existed around me far before I knew about ill-structured problems were.

When I was in K-12 I went to inner-city Minneapolis public schools. The schools that were situated in more privileged neighborhoods had far better reputations and performance than the schools in tougher neighborhoods. The standardized education system simply was not built to accommodate a diverse society and the social landscapes that it lives in.

The Minneapolis district was bussing a limited number of kids from the low-income neighborhoods to the better schools. The district was trying to tame—create a well-structured problem—out of an irreducible ill-structured problem. They could even sell it as “diversifying the classroom,” and this would benefit the locals from the neighborhood and the students getting bussed in—full disclosure, the kids who were local to the high performing high schools were primarily caucasian and the kids being bussed from other areas were primarily African American and latino.

In retrospect the whole thing sits uneasy with me. And I decided to examine it through the lens of the authors we’ve read these last two weeks.

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I aim to talk about the touch points of redefining the problem I was witnessing as a student, examining where the faults are, and asking why the education system is ill-equipped to handle transformation.

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I have organized a sequence of how to examine the problem based on the authors we’ve read and the insights I’ve pulled from them (ISP stands for ill-structured problem).

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Herb Simon is the author that speaks most directly about ISPs.

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By looking at Simon’s identifications of an ill-structured problem we are able to clarify that fair access to quality education is most definitely an ISP.

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Simon defines that there are two types of problem solvers and one of them solves things that are already real, and the other solves for ideals. Pacione hones in on defining who these people are and clarifies why designers are good candidates for complex dilemmas.

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Pacione compares masters—a subject expert trained to solve well-structured problems—with virtuosos—those that can drop in to problems and work around their ambiguity.

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The next three authors draw us a picture of what techniques designers use in complex projects.

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In a nutshell, designers enter a problem space/opportunity spaces and use abductive reasoning and lateral thinking to explore all hypotheses and prototype different solutions. Wyatt most clearly lays out the design thinking cycle of inspiration, ideation, and iteration.

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Redefining the problem is a technique, but in the case of public education and most ISPs it is also a huge obstacle.

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In redefining the problem statement you have to ask deeper questions about the context of the current state problem. Can you get to a positive end goal by solving the problem as stated? This can spiral upwards and outwards as you start to see symptoms of other problems. How does a designer iterate when the consequences of a failed project can have lasting negative effects?Final_Presentation_Blog.012

Finally, ideas from all of the authors would support the introducing some capacity of design education in school.

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Each has their own specification of what is most important about design education.

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I really appreciate this quote as it demonstrates that it is the designer’s responsibility to initiate something that is sustainable and lasting. Teach the people to fish instead of fishing for them.

We Are Blood Theme Development

At the end of design research, our project team — Catherine, Kim, and Zev — had accumulated hundreds of independent utterances from participants we spoke with at mobile blood drives conducted by our clients, We Are Blood. In developing themes, we have unpacked the meaning in each of the ideas presented in the participant’s own words, and grouped them together based on the inferences we have pulled out of each quote.

When we began this stage of the design process, we saw a daunting wall of redundant statements and trivial quotes. But as we shuffled them around, some bland quotes unexpectedly became very central to the themes we were creating.

For example:

“We make sure [mats] are close to the floor, if they start to get light headed or anything, it’s very easy for us to lay them down. The beds are set up so we can accommodate more kids…so I can be over here with a donor and still be watching another donor closely.”— Keralyn, line 5,10

By digging into the psychology of being a mobile blood donation phlebotomist, we learned that language around their jobs, like this example, can be very technical and dry. That’s because there are many standards and etiquettes around FDA policies, and the training of a phlebotomist is very medical and procedural.

But another, deeper real job of a phlebotomist is to improvise as customer service representatives of their company and transform their position into that of an entertainer who performs a good blood donation, one that will convince a new donor to repeat. Keralyn’s quote, above, also tells us just how thoughtfully she and others take the donor’s experience into consideration as they set up a blood drive.

By developing and presenting our themes, we learned about how the phlebotomists are the heartbeat of We Are Blood’s organization.

It’s important to note that our results were greatly impacted by an event that happened a week ago today. Every group of the six student projects that are happening simultaneously got called into a chat with instructors Jon and Matt. We were told that we would not be presenting on Wednesday like we were supposed to, but we would get an extension to the following Monday (today). On average each team had themed about 15 percent of their data. We had all gone in and chosen our favorite utterances that seemed the most interesting to us, and developed a couple of thematic buckets and several distinct themes. Jon and Matt requested that we theme all of our data, not just our favorites.

As a result, we went back to the board. Hours later, we’d gone from having several themes to having 50+.

When we started to draw connections between our themes we discovered clusters of themes that made sense together. So we began sifting through and found three groups of themes that we called motifs.

Motif 1: More than anything else, people are motivated to give in ways that feel unique and easy.

Motif 2: Phlebotomists are the central heartbeat of We Are Blood. Their work is the human-centered staging that makes the entire experience.

Motif 3: Phlebotomists are stretched thin and are isolated in their work, and their key insights may not be being heard.

Elaborating on the first motif we heard donors talking about how they donate to make themselves feel good.

“It’s a good thing to be able to give my blood for somebody else. Because if I ever need it, I would hope that other people would do the same.” — Hannah, line 11

We also recognized that people felt unique donating something that was more personal than a monetary contribution and that made them feel special. If a corporate employee has the option between clicking a button on their computer to donate to a cause during their lunch break, or to go to the mobile blood vehicle in the parking lot, that employee would feel much more elevated by donating blood.

“It’s a good thing to do and it doesn’t cost you anything. People need it, and hopefully, you’ll help them. It’s just so easy.” — Greta, line 8

Hitting on the second motif—phlebotomists are the heartbeat of the organization—we heard mobile staff saying things that made them sound like improv performers or actors. Their job was to distract the donor from the medical procedure happening in front of their eyes and put them in a mind space where they wouldn’t have a physiological reaction to their fear or excitement of needles and blood. Phlebotomists are able to think laterally and mask the medical coldness of blood donation and replace it with a community service sense of togetherness.

“We’re trying to keep their mind off of it, so it’s a lot of personal things. ‘What did you do this summer?’ … We try to make them laugh, try to make them happy. The more they can talk, the more we can assess if they are doing well, or starting to fade a little bit.” — Keralyn, 25

Finally, in our third motif we explored the tension area internally in the company. We noticed that there wasn’t a consistent platform for phlebotomists to be thinking about or sharing their insights from the field, and that the management didn’t have a consistent way of asking for that feedback. There is a ceiling over the phlebotomists and as a result no one is benefiting from the critical thinking and lateral thinking that phlebotomists demonstrate everyday on the job.

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“We have a state of the center meeting. Every quarter, I believe. If time allows it for us to attend we most definitely will. If not, then we’ll get some information from our managers.” — Katie, 39

From here, we will be working with these themes to map service slices and develop greater insights into the donor experience at We Are Blood.

Go Sit In The Corner And Think About What You Said

I came in to our design theory section on designing for poverty with healthy skepticism. Throughout a year of Americorps service in rural Alabama several years ago I witnessed every way in which social entrepreneurship and non-profit aid shouldn’t be done. That’s not to say none of the organizations I interacted with didn’t have their merits. But the fact that Hale County, Alabama still struggled so deeply with unemployment, lack of financial aid, and horrible education meant to me that these non-profits and enterprises with their own individual agendas hadn’t really considered what was good for the community. I have taken the philosophies of the authors we’ve studied over the last two weeks and dropped them into an ironic and fictional experiment. I focus on the shortcomings of their perspectives on design for the wicked poverty problem.

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Jocelyn Wyatt, CEO of IDEO.ORG (not an author from this section, but definitely a player in the social entrepreneurial canon of thought) has kidnapped our thought leaders and brought them to a holding penitentiary outside of her studio in Nairobi, Kenya.

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Over the pandemonium and protest of the authors Jocelyn clarifies that no crime has been committed, but she is here to test everyone’s theories in a live project. They are assigned to come up with a plan of action for the fictional town of Podunk, Louisiana. Until then, they are stuck here.

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Dean Spears jumps into action right away. He frantically puts together the most objective scientific experiment he can muster, “Let me help us show that these poor people need us to guide them by the hand. They are exhausted and their cognitive energy is scarce.”

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By the way, part of this experiment is a series of one-on-one therapy chats with Jocelyn Wyatt. She wants to dig deeper into the psyche of the wicked problems of designing for poverty. Above are her notes from her session with Spears.

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Emily Pilloton, made notorious through her successes with Project H in small town North Carolina stops Spears in the middle of his isolated ruminating. “Dean, don’t you think we ought to get to know the people of Podunk a little bit more? How can we really be designing with if we are treating them as subjects of an experiment? I know Jocelyn has brought us to Nairobi, but maybe she will let us do three whole years of site work in Podunk. Like house arrest, let’s call it “community arrest.” Spears heard her words, but his mind was listening to his thoughts that he wanted to get out of prison and back to the city he came from.

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Jocelyn had a good chat with Emily and had a lot of appreciation for her enthusiasm and insight. But she’s not sure how Emily’s experience can be universalized in general social entrepreneurship and the design field. She found herself in a very good position to leverage the community and her own resources to make something happen in an isolated town. But not everyone can just flock to these floundering places and become their savior. What if they don’t want your help after all?

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Muhammad Yunus comes from a financial background and he sees community wealth as the way forward. He points out that there still exists the frameworks of an old catfish farming economy in this broken town. These poor people haven’t even considered loans a possibility, what kind of bank would give them a loan? Yunus thinks he can get the fish and dollars swimming again with a little bit of supervision.

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Jocelyn questions him on the complexity of pumping monetary wealth into a community that has never experienced luxury. Is that sustainable, and would there be consequences down the road?

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C.K. Parahalad wants to treat poor people just the same as any other market. “Let’s create some good products for these fish farmers. Let’s get them better trawling nets. Let’s get them trading these fish internationally. I can ensure that catfish is the next big staple everywhere from Beijing to New York City.”

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If you plan on having B-Corps drop into this scenario, who is regulating the ethics at all steps of this healing process? If I come to Podunk in 10 years, will I see an exploited local economy?

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Roger Martin fancies himself as an authority in pointing out good social entrepreneurship. He puts Yunus and Prahalad on a pedestal. “These guys have done amazing things in their communities! They are revolutionaries! If you don’t make such a big paradigm shift as these two, then you haven’t done enough.”

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Jocelyn: Wait, so are you suggesting that Emily Pilloton is not a social entrepreneur? Is the small town in North Carolina that she lifted up not enough to title her an entrepreneur? Has she not challenged conventional wisdom about what a designer can accomplish with the collaboration of a community?

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Michael Hobbes isn’t buying any of it. “Can’t entrepreneurship be incremental? Can’t it be generative without being disruptive?” I call bologna.

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Before Hobbes or Victor Margolin had any time to meet with Jocelyn—The writer of this story also ran out of time—the dinner bell rang and socially conscious Danone yogurt was on the menu.

Going to the Theater

 

AKIRA-23

Believe it or not, I actually found a spare moment today to go to the cinema with a couple friends. Austin Film Society was showing Akira, a 1988 masterpiece anime film directed by Katsuhiro Otomo. I am very apt to zone out and go cross-eyed at the animated detail of anime films. They are always visually dazzling and give me a chance to soak in moving art, and to relax. Today that was not the case.

Every frame posed a rapid fire snapshot of the drawing style and point perspective. How does the cityscape look on the horizon? Which characters are usually only shown from the waist up? There were a lot of stimuli for my sketching analytical mind to kick in. It wasn’t relaxing, but it was an exciting and peculiar experience.

This happens with almost everything now. Every service I use has an evident design behind it. I just notice more—The MacBook Pro keyboard is fascinating by the way, It has such a much louder ‘clack’ than previous models.

I find myself getting nosy, asking “why” when someone says “I like that,” or “that’s cool.” I ask myself why things around me matter, which has led me to filter the world more acutely.

I don’t think it would be a sustainable future to have my mind so alert all of the time. But, just like I’m looking for a good work/life balance I’m also looking for my mind/no-mind balance. Wish me luck.